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Henry and Me
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Henry and Me

Kinley, Age 7 | August 06, 2012 | 09:16 AM

This is a story about two friends that have been inseparable since March of 2012. I am a 7 year old girl from Columbus, IN and I am telling you this story with the help of my beautiful and talented Mommy. (insert my eyes rolling here) In order for this story to come together, I will need to give you some history on how these unlikely friends met.

On February 25, 2012, I was crowned Little Miss Fort Wayne with the Miss Fort Wayne/Miss America Scholarship Program, as well as voted the People's Choice favorite. (kind of a big deal) In winning these titles, I was awarded prize money. It was an amazing day for this little girl and hopefully the beginning of my journey down the road of becoming your future Miss Indiana and Miss America!

Now the next part of this story is something I know all Hoosiers have heard about. On March 2, 2012 a deadly and angry tornado devastated a little town not far from where I live. This disaster was the cause of me learning the meaning of community service and having a giving heart, something I heard my Mommy try to explain to me many times. My Daddy works on disasters and had to travel to Henryville, IN just two days after their tiny town was turned upside down. I have a strange obsession with all things weather related and was able to convince my parents that the people there needed my help. So my Mommy and I gathered up anything we could donate from our house and from friends and family and began our adventure to Henryville. What we saw when we arrived was nothing like I had seen on television. Honestly, the destruction was unimaginable and a picture I could never paint. Maybe you saw pictures on the news of the school bus thrown inside a building. It was so scary to see on television or the internet, but an absolute tragedy to see in person. My Mommy was afraid I would have nightmares for life, but it just allowed me to see the power of something that not a single person has the ability to control. It is real life, not like monsters under the bed.

While walking through a maze of disaster, my wonderful Mommy and I (seriously?) stumbled upon a local church that was centered in the chaos. There was an army of people bringing donations for those who had lost everything. We decided this was where we would give our donations of clothes, toys, food and household supplies. It was amazing to me the amount of people that were so giving of their belongings. I even donated my favorite pink bunny and gave it a tight squeeze of love before passing it off to a donation bin. When we finished helping and began our journey back through the town, I had an idea that became the meaning of my story.

Remember my history lesson in the beginning? It was that very walk and moment that I had decided I would donate all of my prize money from my Miss Fort Wayne winnings to the people of Henryville. There was a really nice lady, which must have a heart as big as the moon, working in Henryville for the American Red Cross. I gave all of my winnings to her to help with their efforts in assisting the little town that I already loved so much. Of course I did not expect anything in return, because you should never give only to receive. However, that sweet American Red Cross lady was so grateful for my gesture that, in return, she gave me my best friend.

My best friend happens to be the sweetest and most adorable teddy bear you have ever seen! I named him right away! Just as soon as I hugged Henry for the first time, I heard his name in my heart. He is perfectly soft and has the cutest peach bowtie around his neck, which makes him extra handsome. (he really does not like for me to call that bow pretty) He is truly the best and she made my day!

So Henry and I left Henryville, IN that day together and that is the way we have stayed ever since! Together we have had some of the most incredible adventures. First, Henry helped catch my tears as I said goodbye to my first grade life as the school year came to an end. Then summer began! We discovered Florida and the deep blue sea. Together we lavished in all things princess at the Miss Indiana Princess Camp in Zionsville, IN. Henry has accompanied me on multiple sleepovers and became the life of the party! He loved watching me perform as a Lost Boy in Peter Pan the musical. He may be my biggest fan. He traveled with me to Louisville, KY, St. Louis, MO, Nashville, TN and even a visit to see the progress of his hometown, Henryville. One of our favorite adventures this summer was teaming up as co-captains of our very own kid sized fundraising team. He helped me and 9 of my friends raise almost $1500 for Make-A-Wish Foundation! That was definitely a big deal.

Henry and Henryville have truly inspired me to give of myself. It makes my heart feel as big as the moon. There were many adventures we had together and about a million memories to last a lifetime, but some of them I will hold in my heart. I know for certain that this is just the beginning for Henry and me, with a million times more memories to make. There is nothing better than sharing my little world with my best friend. With so much gratitude for our friendship and how we came together, we will continue to give back to our community and beyond. Miss America would be proud.


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